March 17, 2009

New & Improved Strip by 2010?

I make no excuse about my love for Pittsburgh's Strip District. It's one of the destinations that makes Pittsburgh a great city. It has something for everybody, particularly those who like to eat.

Whether it's Lucy's banh mi, Penn Mac's great selection of cheeses, La Prima's unparalleled coffee drinks (and sfogliatelle from Colangelo's next door to it, or the freakin' fantastic popcorn from Pittsburgh Popcorn Company right next t0 that! Talk about a trifecta. Mamma Mia!), Penn Avenue Fish Company's always outstanding selection of fresh seafood (not to mention it's kick-a#$ fish tacos). I could go on and on, and could eat my way down Penn Ave for a few days with little problem.

Now, the PG's Brian O'Neill reports, the organization Neighbors in the Strip is inching closer to making an expansion of the shopping possibilities in the Strip a reality. And, importantly, it doesn't sound like it's the kind of expansion/gentrification that's seen in many American cities these days -- that is, one dominated by chain restaurants and stores.

The answer may be taking a sixth of the big, old produce terminal on Smallman Street -- now owned by the Urban Redevelopment Authority and almost strictly a wholesaling complex -- and making it a public market. ...

More than 30 potential merchants have expressed interest, and they haven't even begun advertising. A big part of this will be local farmers providing meat and produce in season. Jamison Farm of Latrobe, which sells about 5,000 lambs a year to top restaurants from New York to Las Vegas, is interested, and Ms. Cassell says she's already found a guy who grows 15 kinds of garlic, about 14 more than I knew existed.

The market house likely would open four days a week. About 12,000 square feet would be devoted to fresh and prepared foods, and another 5,400 square feet, a block down the walkway, would offer flowers, crafts and such.

The only guy I'm aware of whose that into garlic is Farmer Troy! However, an inside source tells me it's not him... and that there aren't 15 kinds of garlic.

Sounds like there is a wee bit of a funding gap - to the tune of a million smackeroos -- slowing things down, and that the earliest this could happen would be next spring. Nevertheless, it's an exciting prospect that I hope comes to fruition.

1 comment:

Farmer Troy said...

That is correct . . . there are not 15 varieties of garlic from a purist's standpoint (only 10 different genetic varieties in the world), but from a marketers standpoint, there are hundreds of different names for the various varieties of garlic, but most of them will be duplicates. If I wanted to, I could call my porcelain garlic, "Pennsylvania Extra Hearty," and I used to . . . but since I became involved with the "Garlic Seed Foundation," I have since been on a mission to correct the inaccuracies and educate folks on garlic.

As for the markethouse in the strip, I recently met with Cindy Cassel (in the strip of course, and we had a great coffee at "21st Street Coffee," and she showed me the proposal and plan, and it is very exciting. She is trying to get more farmers and vendors lined up, and I think this will be a very worthwhile endeavor.

Note: As a history buff, I am also very much in favor of returning this part of the building, the former Pennsylvania Railroad Fruit & Vegetable Terminal, into a place where we can once again obtain fruits and vegetables (among other items)!!

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